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WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, OHIO — It’s a chilly, drizzly evening, but Donald Trump Jr. is putting on a red-hot show at Lori’s Roadhouse, a bar and music joint in a strip mall on the outskirts of Cincinnati. Pretending to be a befuddled, senile President Biden, Don Jr. staggers around the low stage, eyes unfocused, making confused gestures and blundering into the giant red-white-and-blue backdrop.

The crowd, a couple of hundred MAGA fans and local Republican players, laps up the wickedness. This is Don Jr.’s last public appearance of the day on behalf of J.D. Vance, whose Senate candidacy was recently endorsed by Trump Sr. As at earlier stops, the audience whoops and laughs and hollers “Amen!” as Trump the Younger slashes at a series of targets: Democrats, the media, RINOs (Senator Mitt Romney is taking a serious beating), Big Tech, America’s “stupid” military leaders and so on.

Don Jr. clearly inherited the family flair for showmanship. (Democrats would do well to keep an eye on his political development. In particular, the ladies here are gaga over him.) He deploys funny voices and goofy faces, his comic timing is spot on, and he has a vicious streak untempered by decency or accuracy. “The other side has literally taken the stance that it’s OK to be a groomer,” he charges, promoting the MAGAworld calumny that Democrats are pro-pedophile. Even on this dark topic he draws laughs by marveling that, in his younger days, “being antipedophile was something that we could all agree on!”

Off to the side, chuckling awkwardly, hands jammed into his jeans pockets, stands Mr. Vance. Tall and burly, with carefully manicured facial hair, the candidate has already done his quick opening act and faded into the background like a good sidekick. He gazes attentively at the former president’s son, nodding appreciatively, clapping and grinning at all the appropriate (or, rather, inappropriate) moments. He takes out his phone to snap the occasional photo. Once or twice, he shoots a glance at the audience, as if to see how this show is playing. (Answer: very well.) Distinctly overshadowed, Mr. Vance is aware that, while his name may be on the yard signs and stickers spread around the bar, he is not who most folks have come to see.



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